Medieval monasteries

Notley AbbeyAbbeys, monasteries and nunneries were all religious houses that incorporated a church as well as rooms for monks and nuns to work, eat and sleep in. They were supported by gifts given by wealthy benefactors hoping to go to heaven and by working the large tracts of land they owned. Some of the farms associated with the monasteries would be quite far away. Do a search on Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal to try to find out the names of all the monasteries, priories, nunneries, abbeys and friaries in Buckinghamshire. Next search for all the farms attached to them. They were called granges. Link each monastery with a grange below:



Monastery                           Grange





Put names to the monasteries on the map of religious houses in Buckinghamshire attached to this page and mark on where all the granges were. Draw lines to link the monasteries to their granges.


Burnham AbbeySome monasteries, nunneries and priories would be dependent on mother houses, usually abbeys, for their existence. Try to work out from looking at all the monasteries in Buckinghamshire which smaller houses were controlled by the large abbeys such as Notley, Great Missenden, Medmenham and Burnham. On the map showing the monasteries of Buckinghamshire attached to this page, draw lines to link the mother house with the daughter houses. Also write them here:


Mother house                        Daughter houses




Snelshall Priory

Snelshall Priory in Whaddon was a Benedictine house from the thirteenth century onwards. The monks there seemed to be rather poor as they had to beg for food and couldn't pay their tithes to Shenley Church. It was important for the monks to have a church, dormitory for sleeping and a refectory for eating. These would usually be arranged around a cloister or courtyard. There would also be some public rooms for welcoming guests to the house. Some monasteries provided schooling and cared for the sick and so would need buildings for that. There would also be service buildings such as kitchens and workshops.


Aerial photograph of the remains of Snelshall PrioryLooking at the aerial photographs of Snelshall Priory below, try to work out where each building was originally. Remember the church would be orientated east-west (as the picture on the right is) and the dormitory and refectory would probably be arranged around a courtyard. Once you think you have worked out where everything was, draw a reconstruction of the priory. You may want to look at these photographs of standing monasteries to help you with the reconstruction.

Aerial photograph of the remains of Snelshall Priory


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